Archive for December, 2011
I don’t know what it is about Christmas and popcorn but they seem to go together. How did the tradition of stringing popcorn on the tree start and why did we always make caramel popcorn balls and wrap them in green or red plastic wrap? Whatever the reason I’m delighted to share this recipe with everyone to enjoy for themselves or to give as gifts to carry on the popcorn tradition. It’s so easy that everyone in the family can participate in some part of the fun of making these tasty treats.
- 1 cup raw honey or coconut nectar
- 1 cup raw coconut crystals
- 1 cup unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, whatever you prefer), room temperature
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- course ground sea salt to taste
- 1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
- Measure the popcorn into a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium sized sauce pan stir together the honey and coconut crystals. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust heat down a little if needed to keep from boiling over.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add in the peanut butter. Stir until completely mixed in and smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the popcorn, sprinkle with sea salt and stir to combine.
- Form into balls. Be careful as the popcorn mixture will be hot but you need to form the balls right away for them to stick together. Lay the balls on a sheet of wax paper to cool before placing into cellophane bags.
- You can also lay the loose popcorn out onto waxed paper to cool without shaping into balls.
Makes 12 popcorn balls.
Serving size 1 popcorn ball.
The beginning of a journey is often the hardest. When my family and I switched to a completely plant based diet, I’ll be honest, my first thought was “What in the world am I going to feed them?!” My husband dislikes veggies and my 5 and 6 year olds weren’t suddenly going to start eating salads. It was important for me to find family friendly recipes so I googled around for some cookbooks that would fit the bill. One of the cookbooks I purchased was Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton. I was impressed by the great reviews it got on Amazon and decided to give it a try.
- For someone that is thinking about starting a plant based diet or wants to ease into it this book is a good place to start. For the most part the recipes are relatively easy and the instructions are well written.
- This book is definitely family friendly. The Banana Bliss Pancakes and Fantastic French Toast were well received by my family and we all enjoy the Hummus Tortilla Pizzas.
- While my family isn’t gluten free I liked the fact that each recipe that had a wheat free option was clearly marked at the top of each page. A good portion of the recipes can easily be made gluten free so for those that need to avoid wheat you’ll be happy with the options available to you in this cookbook.
- I was so pleased to see a ‘vegan’ cookbook that didn’t rely heavily on soy. In fact, only a handful of recipes used soy at all! A lot of people are sensitive to soy and while my family and I all eat soy we only do so on a limited basis. Kudos to Dreena for not buying into the soy trend.
- Dreena devotes an entire section of the book to “Feeding Your Vegan Baby & Toddler”. While my kids are well past this stage it has WONDERFUL information for anyone with babies or toddlers at home. It has a fantastic chart that shows you when to introduce foods and has a ton of food ideas and combos to feed even the pickiest of kids.
- You would think that being as this is a cookbook that you might find pictures of food. Not in this book. There are pictures of Dreena’s family scattered throughout the book but not a single photo of food. I certainly never expect my meals to come out looking like the photos but having pictures of the final product is helpful and would have broken up the lackluster pages of the book.
- I certainly don’t expect all vegans to eat a big bowl of leafy greens each day but the use of green vegetables in this book is almost non existent. Out of the 104 recipes in the book only 2 recipes contain green leafy vegetables. Even carrots are only used twice! There are less than a handful of recipes that feature vegetables in general and those are focused on frozen peas, zucchini and broccoli. This was by far the most disappointing aspect of the book.
- The book is HEAVILY influenced by grains, oats and seeds. Hemp is used frequently throughout the entire book. While hemp has great nutritional properties I don’t think we should limit any part of our diet to just one product. It would have been nice to see other nuts and seeds utilized a bit more. She does mention in some of the notes that you can substitute with other nuts and seeds but you end up changing the texture and taste of the recipe and in most cases you end up with a different recipe entirely.
- For someone just getting started with a healthier lifestyle some of the ingredients are less known and not as easy to find at your local grocery store. Barley flour, kamut flour, spelt flour, hemp seeds and amaranth flour are used throughout the book and are not easily substituted with other easier to find alternatives.
- Sugar as well as a some other ‘processed’ ingredients, such as faux meat products and phyllo dough, make their way into this cookbook. While Dreena is sure to point out to use an unrefined sugar those that are listed, sucanat, turbinado and evaporated cane juice, are among the most processed on the market. Though, this isn’t a deal breaker since you can easily substitute your favorite ‘sugar’ in any of her recipes.
If you are just starting out with a plant based diet this is a terrific book to pick up. The recipes are easy and simple to follow and you can feed your family delicious food that everyone will love. While I’ve made a few recipes from this book it’s not one that I go back to at all now that I’m comfortable preparing my own plant based meals. I would recommend checking to see if your local library has a copy and taking note of any recipes that interest you. You can also try picking up a used copy from Amazon if you can’t find it at your local library.
For those that have been following a plant based diet for some time, you most likely won’t be surprised by any of these recipes and probably already have made most of them in some way or another. I wouldn’t bother spending my money on this book and recommend that you check out this awesome blog and this awesome blog instead.
I was not paid or perked for writing this review. The review is solely based on my personal and honest opinions. If you do not agree with them please feel free to leave a review in the comments.
It’s that time of year where family and friends come visit to share in a little holiday cheer. I like to have a homemade dessert after a good meal but don’t want to spend a lot of time and fuss preparing it. This pie is so easy and since it is made ahead of time you can relax and enjoy the time with your company.
For the crust
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 tbsp potato flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp neutral flavor oil ( I used sunflower oil)
- 1/3 cup raw coconut crystals
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the filling
- 2/3 cup lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups Homemade Almond Milk
- 1 cup lite coconut milk
- 5 tbsp organic cornstarch
- 1 cup raw honey
- Homemade Whipped Cream (optional)
For the crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl combine the flour and the salt.
- In a separate bowl combine the tapioca starch, potato starch, baking soda, water and oil. Whisk together well.
- Add the coconut crystals, molasses and vanilla.
- Add the wet mixture into the dry. Stir to combine.
- Press into a 9 inch pie plate.
- Bake 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
For the filling
- Place all of the filling ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.
- Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Pour into the prepared pie shell.
- Chill in the refrigerator until set about 3-4 hours.
- Top with whipped cream if using.
Makes 8 slices of pie.
Serving size 1 slice
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 236, Cal. from Fat: 67, Total Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 41g, Fiber: 2.5g, Sugars: 25g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 315mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
At least once or twice a week we get a request for a coffee creamer recipe. Up until now I’ve been reluctant to post one since neither my hubby nor I drink coffee. Luckily I found a willing
guinea pig participant to taste all of my creations. One thing to keep in mind when making any of the flavor variations is that you can add or subtract amounts based on your personal preference. These are more or less guidelines to help you get started as you create your perfect 100% customized coffee creamer. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Coffee Creamer Base:
- 1 1/4 cups Homemade Condensed Milk
- 1 cup milk of your choice (I used Homemade Almond Milk but oat, soy, hemp or regular milk work great too)
- 1 – 2 tbsp sweetener of your choice – optional
- 1/2 tsp thickener of your choice – optional (Depending on the milk that you use you might want to thicken your creamer. Guar gum, arrowroot, agar agar or cornstarch all work great.)
For a flavored coffee creamer, select one of the following flavors and add the ingredients to your coffee creamer base.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 3 tbsp pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
- French Vanilla – 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Chocolate – 1 tbsp vanilla and 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- Amaretto – 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp almond extract
- Cappuccino – 1 tsp almond extract and 1/2 tsp orange extract
- Cinnamon Strudel – 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp almond extract
- Peppermint – 1/2 tsp peppermint or mint extract
- Hazelnut – 1/2 tsp hazelnut extract
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together the condensed milk, milk of your choice and sweetener (if using).
- Add in optional thickener at this time if needed.
- When the mixture begins to steam, remove from heat and add in any of the optional flavor ingredients.
- Stir well and transfer to a sealed glass bottle and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Nutritional info will vary greatly depending on the flavor option selected.
Creamer can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I first heard of Moussaka when browsing a Mediterranean cookbook that I found at a thrift shop. It looked interesting but would need quite a makeover so I marked the page and set it aside. That was about a year ago. The other day one of our readers asked if we had a Moussaka recipe and I was reminded that I had not gotten around to making this dish. Moussaka usually contains ground beef or lamb and cheese so I made a few substitutions and this is what I came up with. I knew from the aroma coming out of the oven while the Moussaka baked that it would be divine. I really enjoyed this dish so thanks Becky for reminding me.
For the filling
- 1 can (15 ounces) or equivalent cooked beans (about 1 1/2 cups), I used anasazi beans but azuki or kidney beans can be used.
- 2 medium size eggplants
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup diced mushrooms (approximately 4 ounces)
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 jar (25 ounce) no salt added crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg, divided
- 2 bay leaves
For the béchamel topping
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 3 cups non dairy milk, warmed (I used soy milk)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- Preheat broiler to high.
- Cut the tops and bottoms off of the eggplant and then slice into rounds, about 4 for each eggplant. Slices should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Brush the eggplant slices on each side with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet (foil lined for easy clean up if you wish) and place in the broiler. Broil on each side until slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Rinse and drain the beans (if using canned) and spread evenly over the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish. Set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Sauté 3-4 minutes or until the onions are tender.
- Add the mushrooms and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté another 3-4 minutes.
- Carefully pour in the red wine. Simmer a minute and then add the allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaves.
- Add the tomato puree and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and pour the sauce over the beans. Next layer the eggplant slices over the top of the tomato sauce.
- Wipe out the skillet to make the béchamel. Add 2 tbsp of oil to the skillet. Whisk in the flour.
- Cook over medium heat whisking constantly about 1-2 minutes until the flour is brown and bubbly.
- Slowly, a little at a time add the warmed milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
- Keep stirring over medium heat until the mixture has thickened, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the salt and nutmeg.
- Pour the mixture over the eggplant slices and top with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake 45-50 minutes until heated through and the sauce is bubbly.
- Let cool 10 minutes or so before cutting.
Makes 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 422, Cal. from Fat: 135, Total Fat: 15g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 36g, Fiber: 14g, Sugars: 12g, Protein: 14.5g, Sodium: 545mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Last week at my children’s gymnastic studio they were having a used book fair to raise money for a child that had just been diagnosed with cancer. :( While browsing through the books I came across one that could have been written just for me. It was a bit tattered and definitely worn but on the cover I could easily read the title - Sweet and Natural Desserts without Sugar, Honey, Molasses, or Artificial Sweeteners by Janet Warrington. It was from 1982 and even back then Janet Warrington writes about the adverse affects of using artificial sweeteners on our health. While I waited for my kids to finish their class I browsed through more of the book and found this great tip for making your own ‘sweet milk’ or condensed milk. And they say nothing good came from the 80′s!
- 1 cup milk of your choice (I used Homemade Almond Milk) *see notes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened raisins
- Combine milk and raisins in a sealed container and place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- After soaking, remove the raisins and use as a 1:1 replacement for regular condensed milk.
Nutritional info will vary greatly depending on what milk is used.
Leftover milk can be stored in the fridge for about 1 to 2 days. The length of time will depend on the type of milk that is used. Non dairy milks tend to last a bit longer than cow’s milk varieties.
If you want an even sweeter milk, after soaking transfer both the milk and raisins to a blender and process until smooth. The result is a super sweet milk that is great for use in cookies and baked goods.
Please note that whole milk is not recommend for use in this recipe.
What’s your first thought when you think of pot pie? A frozen pie in a foil tin you heat in the oven? A nursery rhyme involving 4 and 20 blackbirds? Pot pie has always been one of my favorite dishes. It’s hot and savory and when your fork breaks through the crust and mixes in with the creamy filling it’s the perfect bite.
- 3 medium red potatoes, diced
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced into half moons
- 3 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed, diced
- 1 cup green beans, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
- 4 tbsp organic cornstarch
- 3 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk
- Perfect Pie Crust, rolled out and cut into 4 six inch circles, or large enough to cover four 16 ounce ramekins *see notes*
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just done. Don’t over cook. Drain and set aside.
- While the potatoes cook, place 2 tbsp olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium-high. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
- Add the mushrooms, green beans and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Saute another 4-5 minutes or until the green beans are tender. Add the additional oil if needed.
- Add the potatoes and 3 1/2 cups of the broth. Season with the poultry seasoning and black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
- Mix the cornstarch with the remaining broth. Stir into the skillet with the other ingredients. Simmer until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
- Evenly divide the filling into the 4 ramekins. Cover with the prepared crusts and press down along the sides of the ramekin. Brush tops with milk.
- With a sharp knife pierce the crusts a few time to vent.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information not available.
This dish is best served right away but leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. When reheated the crust will be softer.
*Depending on the width of your ramekins you may only need to make half the pie crust recipe. My ramekins are 16 ounces and 5 1/2 inches across so I needed the full recipe but had a little leftover that I made into apple turnovers.
I was never a big fan of The Olive Garden but they did have one dish I really liked – Chicken con Broccoli. It was made with orecchiette pasta and had a delicious creamy garlic sauce that was mixed in with pieces of broccoli and topped with chicken. When I tasted my Creamy Garlic Sauce the first time I immediately thought back to that Olive Garden dish. While Olive Garden has since taken this meal off their menu you can easily recreate it at home, which is a good thing considering the calories, fat and sodium of the original meal was almost a full days serving.
- 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
- 8 ounces pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente (I used Eden Organic 100% Whole Grain Kamut Spaghetti)
- 1 1/2 cups Creamy Garlic Sauce
- 1/4 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl add the pasta and broccoli and stir gently to combine. Add the garlic sauce and gently stir until evenly coated.
- Transfer to 9 x 12 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs (if using) and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 364.5, Cal. from Fat: 138, Total Fat: 15g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 44.5g, Fiber: 8.5g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 14.5g, Sodium: 1041mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftovers can be store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can freeze the leftovers for up to 6 months but you’ll want to add a bit of sauce when you reheat as the pasta will be a bit dry.
I’ve never been much of a milk drinker. When my family and I switched to a plant based diet giving up dairy wasn’t really that hard for me. For my son it was a little tougher. He normally starts his morning with a glass of hot milk. I knew there were a ton of non dairy milk substitutes on the market so I figured we would be ok. Then I took a look at some of the ingredient lists. Quickly the options of non dairy milk substitutes dwindled down to 2 0r 3 choices. WestSoy has an unsweetened soy milk that I like and Pacific Natural Foods has an oat milk that I really like. Both are great to use in a pinch but I really like making my own ‘milk’. Not only do a I get fresh milk with no added preservatives or chemicals but I also end up with homemade almond meal! It’s like BOGO but without the shoes. I like shoes. They are pretty. After you make your almond milk you should go buy shoes.
- 2 cups raw unsalted almonds
Preparation for Almond Milk:
- Add your almonds to a large bowl and cover them completely with water. Soak them for at least six hours (I usually just leave them overnight) until they are nice and plump.
- After soaking add 1 cup of almonds and 1 1/2 cups of water to your food processor or blender (you need to work in batches, don’t try to add all the almonds and water to the processor at once) and blend for about 30 seconds. You’ll end up with a frothy, milky looking mixture.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or other container.
- Press any extra liquid out with the back of a spoon or spatula. You want to try to get as much liquid as possible out of the almond pulp.
- Remove the almond pulp from the stainer and place in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Repeat steps 2 – 5 until all your almonds have been processed.
Preparation for Almond Meal:
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Spread the almond pulp on a baking sheet as evenly as possible.
- Place in the oven for about an hour or until the almonds are toasted and brown. The almonds should be very dry. You could also use a dehydrator if you’d like.
- Transfer the toasted almonds to a blender or food processor and process until you have a fine grain consistency.
- If there are any almond skins that didn’t get processed simply pour the almond meal through a stainer and discard the leftover skin.
- You should be left with about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of almond meal.
Makes approximately 2 cups of Almond Milk and 2 cups of Almond Meal.
I have no idea how to calculate the nutritional info of almond milk – sorry!
You can use this Almond Milk to replace milk in most recipes or anywhere you’d use a store bought almond milk.
For a sweetened Almond Milk add a date to step 2 and process as directed. For a Vanilla Almond Milk add a couple of drops of vanilla to your milk and shake well.
Almond Milk will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.
Carrot cake is one of my all time favorite desserts and pumpkin is my favorite, well…..everything. It was only natural that I put the two together and made Pumpkin Carrot Cake. Right? This cake is moist and spicy and everything carrot cake should be.
- 2 tbsp finely ground flax seed
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, divided
- 2 tsp neutral flavor oil plus a little to grease the baking pan
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 cup raw coconut crystals
- 4 tbsp maple sugar (you could use maple syrup if you can’t find the sugar)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp raw finely shredded coconut
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp raw coconut oil (melted)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Homemade Whipped Cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan or a bundt pan.
- In a small bowl mix together the flax seed, tapioca starch, potato starch, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp oil and the water. Mix well and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, remaining 2 tsp baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Stir to thoroughly mix.
- In a separate bowl mix the coconut crystals, maple sugar, carrots, pumpkin, pineapple, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, soy milk, vinegar, vanilla and coconut oil. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Stir the flax seed mixture again and add it to the wet ingredients. Mix in well.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Beat well.
- Add in the walnuts and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake 35-40 minutes for the 9 x 13 pan or 50-55 minutes for the bundt pan.
- Remove from the oven and cool. If using the bundt pan remove the cake from the pan to a plate.
- Top with Homemade Whipped Cream (if using), sprinkle with the remaining shredded coconut and serve.
Makes approximately 12 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 247, Cal. from Fat: 80, Total Fat: 9g, Sat. Fat: 3g, Carbs: 36g, Fiber: 5.5g, Sugars: 15.6g, Protein: 4.6g, Sodium: 364mg, Chol: 0mg
Store covered on the counter for 1-2 days then refrigerate any remaining cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.